Psalm 79:8
O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
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Psalm 79:8. Remember not against us former iniquities — The sins committed by our forefathers, and by us who have filled up the measure of their sins, for which we confess thou hast most righteously brought this desolating judgment upon us. Let thy tender mercies — Upon which all our confidence is fixed; for merit and righteousness we have none; see Daniel 9:7; Daniel 9:9. Speedily prevent us — Prevent our utter extirpation, which we have deserved, and have great reason to expect; for we are brought very low — Past the hopes of all human help, and therefore the glory of our deliverance will be wholly thine.

79:6-13 Those who persist in ignorance of God, and neglect of prayer, are the ungodly. How unrighteous soever men were, the Lord was righteous in permitting them to do what they did. Deliverances from trouble are mercies indeed, when grounded upon the pardon of sin; we should therefore be more earnest in prayer for the removal of our sins than for the removal of afflictions. They had no hopes but from God's mercies, his tender mercies. They plead no merit, they pretend to none, but, Help us for the glory of thy name; pardon us for thy name's sake. The Christian forgets not that he is often bound in the chain of his sins. The world to him is a prison; sentence of death is passed upon him, and he knows not how soon it may be executed. How fervently should he at all times pray, O let the sighing of a prisoner come before thee, according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die! How glorious will the day be, when, triumphant over sin and sorrow, the church beholds the adversary disarmed for ever! while that church shall, from age to age, sing the praises of her great Shepherd and Bishop, her King and her God.O remember not against us forrmer iniquities - Margin, The iniquities of them that were before us. The Hebrew may mean either former times, or former generations. The allusion, however, is substantially the same. It is not their own iniquities which are particularly referred to, but the iniquity of the nation as committed in former times; and the prayer is, that God would not visit them with the results of the sins of former generations, though their own ancestors. The language is derived from the idea so constantly affirmed in the Scripture, and so often illustrated in fact, that the effects of sin pass over from one generation to the next, and involve it in calamity. See Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Leviticus 20:5; Leviticus 26:39-40; Numbers 14:18, Numbers 14:33; compare the notes at Romans 5:12, et seg.

Let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us - literally, "Hasten; let thy tender mercies anticipate us." The word prevent here, as elsewhere in the Scriptures, does not mean to hinder, as with us, but to go before; to anticipate. See Job 3:12, note; Psalm 17:13, note; Psalm 21:3, note; Isaiah 21:14, note; Matthew 17:25, note; 1 Thessalonians 4:15, note. The prayer here is, that God, in his tender mercy or compassion, would anticipate their ruin; would interpose before matters had gone so far as to make their destruction inevitable.

For we are brought very low - The idea in the original word is that of being pendulous, or hanging down - as vines do, or as anything does that is wilted, or withered, or as the hands do when one is weak, faint, or sick. Then it refers to a failure or exhaustion of strength; and the idea here is that their strength as a nation was exhausted.

8. former iniquities—literally, "iniquities of former times."

prevent us—literally, "meet us," as in Ps 21:3.

Former iniquities; the sins committed by our forefathers, and by us, who have filled up the measure of their sins, for which we confess thou hast most righteously brought this desolating judgment upon us.

Thy tender mercies; upon which all our confidence is fixed; for merit and righteousness we have none. See Daniel 9:7,9.

Prevent us; prevent our utter extirpation, which we have deserved, and have great reason to expect.

Brought very low; past the hopes of all human help, and therefore the glory of our deliverance will be wholly thine.

O remember not against us former iniquities,.... Or, "our ancient iniquities", as the Septuagint; the most ancient sin of all is that of our first parents, in which we are involved, and by which we are made sinners; and for which judgment comes upon all men; and from thence flows the corruption of nature, or that original sin of our nature in which we are all conceived and born, and so are transgressors from the womb; or iniquities of former times, of our youth, as Kimchi, sins done of old, committed long ago, in the youthful age, see Psalm 25:7, or the sins of former persons, of our fathers, as Aben Ezra, which the Lord visits sometimes upon the children: some think reference is had to the sin of their forefathers in making and worshipping the golden calf; the Jews (e) have a saying, that there is no punishment happens to Israel, but there is an ounce in it for the sin of the calf; their meaning is, that this is always remembered and visited, according to Exodus 32:34, the phrase may take in all the sins of former persons, their ancestors, and of former times, from age to age, they had continued in, which had brought ruin upon them; and all their own sins, of nature and of youth, all past ones, to the present time: and it is desired that God would not "remember these against them"; that is, that he would not chastise or punish them for them, but that he would pardon them; for forgiveness of sin is sometimes expressed by a non-remembrance of it, Isaiah 43:25, or that he would not "remember unto" (f) them; that is, put them in mind of them, lay them home and heavy upon their consciences, charge them with the guilt of them, and demand satisfaction for them; which is causing them to possess the sins of their youth, or former ones, Job 13:26,

let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us; the mercy of God is rich, plenteous, and abundant; many are the acts, and manifold the instances of it; and there is a heart of compassion, and a tenderness expressed in it; and which is free, and comes before the merits of men, goes before them, and is not caused by them; and the phrase denotes the early and timely application of it, the case being desperate, and requiring haste, and the danger such that nothing but mercy could prevent; and indeed it is mercy that prevents both our temporal and eternal ruin. The reason given for this request is,

for we are brought very low; sin brings men into a low estate, and only the grace and mercy of God can raise them up, and that exalts to an high estate; or are become very "weak" (g) and helpless; sin strips men of their strength, leaves them without any, and incapable of helping themselves out of that estate into which it has brought them: or are quite "exhausted" (h) and dried up, no good thing in them, no comfort left them; but are poor, and wretched, and miserable.

(e) T Hieros. Taanioth, fol. 68. 3.((f) "ne memineris nobis", Montanus, Michaelis; so Cocceius. (g) "attenuati", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Vatablus, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (h) "Exhausti", Gejerus, Michaelis.

O remember not against us {f} former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.

(f) Which we and our fathers have committed.

8. Remember not against us the iniquities of our forefathers (R.V.). For these sins Israel in the Exile knew that it was suffering (Lamentations 5:7), in accordance with the warnings of the law (Exodus 20:5). For the phrase cp. Jeremiah 11:10. But the next verse shews that the Psalmist does not claim that his own generation is innocent. Cp. Leviticus 26:39-40.

prevent us] Come to meet us. See on Psalm 59:10. It is an appeal to the fundamental revelation of God as a merciful God (Exodus 34:6).

Verse 8. - O remember not against us former iniquities; or, the iniquities of our forefathers (so Professor Cheyne and the Revised Version); comp. Leviticus 26:45, "I will remember to them the covenant of their ancestors" - where the same word (רִאשֹׁגִים) is used. Let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us; or, come to meet us (Kay, Cheyne). For we are brought very low (comp. Psalm 111:6; Psalm 142:6). Psalm 79:8Out of the plaintive question how long? and whether endlessly God would be angry and cause His jealousy to continue to burn like a fire (Deuteronomy 32:22), grows up the prayer (Psalm 79:6) that He would turn His anger against the heathen who are estranged from the hostile towards Him, and of whom He is now making use as a rod of anger against His people. The taking over of Psalm 79:6-7 from Jeremiah 10:25 is not betrayed by the looseness of the connection of thought; but in themselves these four lines sound much more original in Jeremiah, and the style is exactly that of this prophet, cf. Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 2:3, and frequently, Psalm 49:20. The אל, instead of על, which follows שׁפך is incorrect; the singular אכל gathers all up as in one mass, as in Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 17:13. The fact that such power over Israel is given to the heathen world has its ground in the sins of Israel. From Psalm 79:8 it may be inferred that the apostasy which raged earlier is now checked. ראשׁנים is not an adjective (Job 31:28; Isaiah 59:2), which would have been expressed by עונותינו חראשׁנים, but a genitive: the iniquities of the forefathers (Leviticus 26:14, cf. Psalm 39:1-13). On Psalm 79:8 of Judges 6:6. As is evident from Psalm 79:9, the poet does not mean that the present generation, itself guiltless, has to expiate the guilt of the fathers (on the contrary, Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; Ezekiel 18:20); he prays as one of those who have turned away from the sins of the fathers, and who can now no longer consider themselves as placed under wrath, but under sin-pardoning and redeeming grace.
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